ESA Policy News September 30: Pope preaches to Congress on climate, Speaker Boehner to resign, Science committee examines NEON
Sep30

ESA Policy News September 30: Pope preaches to Congress on climate, Speaker Boehner to resign, Science committee examines NEON

Here are some highlights from the latest ESA Policy News by Policy Analyst Terence Houston. Read the full Policy News here. CONGRESS: POPE CALLS ON LAWMAKERS TO AVERT ‘ENVIRONMENTAL DETERIORATION’ On Sept. 24, Pope Francis spoke before a joint session of the United States Congress, advocating for compassion and equal opportunity for the underprivileged. He also urged Congress to take action to protect the earth and touched on the value of scientific discovery. While Pope Francis did not explicitly utter the phrase climate change, he stated that protecting the earth should be one of the many ways in which human society works to advance the common good. “We need a conversation which includes everyone, since the environmental challenge we are undergoing, and its human roots, concern and affect us all,” said Francis. Highlighting the value of scientific research, Pope Francis stated “America’s outstanding academic and research institutions can make a vital contribution in the years ahead” towards combating poverty and protecting nature. Click here to read the text of the pope’s speech. Click here to read the text of the pope’s White House speech. HOUSE: SPEAKER BOEHNER TO RESIGN IN OCTOBER House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) announced last week that he will resign from Congress effective Oct. 30. The announcement came a day after Pope Francis made history as the first pope to speak before a joint session of Congress. Boehner was instrumental in arranging his invitation. It also came amid growing unrest among the House Republican conference with Speaker Boehner. One lawmaker, Rep. Mark Meadows (R-NC), had introduced a resolution in July that called for Boehner’s resignation as speaker. The party is also strategizing over how to continue funding the government throughout FY 2016. Prior to Boehner’s resignation, far-right conservatives had been pushing party leaders to include language prohibiting funding for Planned Parenthood in any continuing resolution to fund the government beyond tonight’s deadline, when FY 2015 funding expires. The White House released a Statement of Administration Policy declaring the president would veto any legislation to defund Planned Parenthood. The Senate recently passed a clean continuing resolution by a vote of 78-20 that will extend government funding at existing levels through Dec. 11. The House is expected to approve the bill before today’s midnight deadline, allowing the government to remain open. Current House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) is the leading contender to succeed Boehner. The next speaker will likely be under political pressure to adopt a more confrontational approach to dealing with the White House and Congressional Democrats. The House Republican leadership elections are scheduled for Oct. 8. HOUSE: SCIENCE COMMITTEE DELVES INTO NEON DESCOPE PLAN On Sept. 18, the...

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Fall migrations

This post contributed by Nadine Lymn, ESA Director of Public Affairs Now that mid-October has arrived, many of us notice the shortening days, dark mornings, and new chill in the air.  Thoughts turn to cozy indoor activities, hot beverages, and away from such outdoor hobbies such as gardening.  But while we have the luxury of moving many of our activities indoors during the upcoming winter chill, other species in North America—primarily birds and butterflies—are either preparing for long travel or are already en route to southerly destinations. As noted in a wild bird blog for nature enthusiasts, some 350 species of birds in North America migrate, the majority of them to wintering destinations that include Mexico, Central and South America, and the West Indies: “In North America there are four major migration routes, known as the Atlantic, Mississippi, Central and Pacific Flyways. A flyway can generally be described as a broad geographical area of travel consisting of hundreds of widely diverse, individual migration routes. No two species of birds will travel exactly the same route from beginning to end.” The U.S. Geological Survey provides an in-depth description of the  migration routes birds take as they leave the U.S. on their way to various wintering grounds.  Some species, such as many shorebirds, begin their fall migration as early as July, while others, like goshawks, redpolls and waxwings may not get started until winter. As many birders know, most birds migrate during the night.  According to the USGS website, the most likely hypothesis for this is that this maximizes birds’ ability to refuel and rest.  Birds traveling all night can come to rest at daybreak and begin to find food; if they flew all day and came to rest at night, they would be unlikely to garner food, which they urgently need after long exertion.   There are, however, some daytime migrants, among them loons, cranes, and pelicans as well as soaring birds which depend upon thermals for their flight. This website lets you find out what birds may be passing through your area now and in the coming months. Birds are not the only ones taking flight in the fall.  Butterflies are also on the move, with the Monarch butterfly probably the most well-known of these.  And even though many of us lose interest in gardening when summer ends, the National Wildlife Federation (NWF) points out the value of gardens that offer late blooming plants such as asters and goldenrods for fall migrants, including hummingbirds and various species of butterflies, such as the monarch, painted lady, and cloudless sulfur. Cape May, New Jersey, is a key resting spot for migrating monarchs,...

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